F1 steering wheels serve an obvious and important function. But F1 drivers use them to do much more than just point the car in the right direction.
This year designers have had to squeeze in buttons for Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems and Drag Reduction Systems along with the usual array of toggles, switches and levers.
Now F1 is being broadcast in high definition it’s easier for us to see what the driver’s up to at the wheel.
This video from Mercedes gives an introduction to some of the settings their drivers have to tweak while they’re on the move:
Here’s a closer look at Sauber’s steering wheel and what their drivers have to control while lapping at over 200mph:
|N||Puts gearbox into neutral|
|B||Activates Kinetic Energy Recovery System|
|Oil||Activates supplementary oil tank for engine|
|KRec (dial)||KERS recovery setting|
|Ack / Yes||Acknowledge to confirm set-up changes. Also used when the driver’s radio is not working properly to indicate a ‘Yes’ response|
|Probl/No||Sets a marker in the telemetry to indicate a problem was encountered. Also used when the driver’s radio is not working properly to indicate a ‘No’ response|
|Entry / Prel / Visco (dials)||Change differential settings for corner entry, pre-load and corner exit|
|MFRS (dial)||Multifunctional Rotary Switch (centre dial) which controls various settings. Used in conjunction with + and – buttons to change options|
|PL||Turn pit lane speed limiter on/off|
|BP||Find clutch bite point|
|W||Activates Drag Reduction System|
|Pedal (dial)||Change throttle pedal map|
|Box||Used when the driver’s radio is not working properly to indicate the driver is coming into the pits|
|Krel (dial)||KERS release setting|
|Tyre||Adjust electronics to suit different tyres|
|Left gear paddle||Shift down a gear|
|Right gear paddle||Shift up a gear|
In addition to the various controls, drivers also receive information via the lights on the steering wheel.
On the Sauber steering wheel the displays are:
- RPM indicator (upper LEDs)
- FIA flag signals (left and right LEDs)
- Gear selection (centre LED)
- Speed and sector times / MFRS options (left and right screens)
On some cars, such as the Red Bull, this display cluster is mounted behind the steering wheel.
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Image © Sauber F1 Team